Florida man exonerated after 37 years in prison sues Tampa, retired police over wrongful conviction

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A Florida man exonerated of rape and murder after 37 years in prison is suing police and the city of Tampa over his wrongful conviction and initial death sentence.

Robert DuBoise, 56, left prison in late Aug. 2020 after officials revealed new evidence that proved his innocence. Untested DNA evidence from a rape kit proved he did not rape and murder 19-year-old Barbara grams in 1983. No one else had been arrested. 

Former inmate Robert DuBoise, 56, meets reporters with his sister Harriet, left, and mother Myra, right, outside the Hardee County Correctional Institute after serving 37 years in prison, when officials discovered new evidence that proved his innocence Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Hardee County, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

Having lost almost four decades of his life, DuBoise has taken aim at those who helped convict him in the first place, the Tampa Bay Times reported. His federal lawsuit names as defendants the city of Tampa, four police investigators – all now retired – and forensic dentist Dr. Richard Souviron, who testified a bitemark on the victim came from DuBoise. 

“The only physical evidence implicating Mr DuBoise was fabricated ‘bitemark’ evidence that supposedly matched Mr DuBoise to an injury on the victim’s body,” Daniel Marshall, an attorney for the Human Rights Defense Center, wrote in the lawsuit. “In fact, the victim’s injury was not a human bitemark at all.”

DuBoise’s lawsuit quotes a speech to police chiefs in which Souviron said: “If you tell me that is the guy that did it, I will go into court and say that is the guy that did it.”

The testimony relied on the use of a beeswax mold, which in the 1980s was not considered a credible method of evidence. The complaint alleges that detectives conspired with Claude Butler, a jailhouse informant who claimed Duboise confessed to him.

A spokesman for the City of Tampa declined to comment on the lawsuit. 

Two pending bills in the Florida legislature would give DuBoise $1.85 million for the years spent in prison. A similar bill filed earlier this year did not reach a vote. 

“Unfortunately, that claims bill does not appear to be moving at all,” said Daniel Marshall, one of the attorneys representing DuBoise. “Given the lack of movement on the claims bill, we’re pursuing alternate avenues.”

Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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